Starting in 2008, the “Year of the FLOOD”, and getting stronger and better for the next six years in a row, a dedicated group of volunteers, officially known as the RATS (Running Around Tidying Streams) has gathered on an early day in August with a common mission: to clean the Cedar River and her banks. And over the past 6 years, they have cleaned each of the 21+ miles of the Cedar in Benton County twice. 7 – 9 miles at a time.

In 2012 when the water was much too low to support the boats in this effort, the RATS gathered on a cold November morning and actually walked the riverbed and the bank – accumulating over 3 pickup loads of debris in all shapes and styles in just under only 4 hours.

They have worked in the heat, in the rain, and in the cold. They have worked in a LOT of water, and they have walked a LOT of sand. They have worked 4 hours, and they have worked 11 hours. They have worked with the DNR, Benton County Conservation, The Iowa Water Trails, Benton County Supervisors, Waste Management and more. The RATS worked together until the route was done. There were RATS on the water; there were RATS on the ground. Over the past 6 years, this group learned how to organize this event and succeed every time we set out.

This grass-roots project was not possible without the very generous support of many local and corporate donations of all kinds. Everything from funds, food, dumpsters, gloves, water, buckets, many planning hours, picnic preparation hours and more. All were given to the RATS to aid in our efforts. For 6 years the County waived the landfill fees and donated the use of their recycle trailers to further assist with our project. Some RATS cooked, some RATS baked, some RATS hauled trailers. It was all done for a common goal. Keeping the Cedar clean.

If you were to ask any one of the RATS what the most interesting item found over 6 years has been, every one of us would have a vastly different answer. If you to ask any RAT about their most memorable moments, some may have the same, but the majority of those answers would also vary greatly. It has been an “experience” for everyone that has participated in this event in any way.

To make a long (sad for me) story short, the RATS are taking 2014 off from gathering for their annual clean up. This decision was a very difficult one and was made only after much discussion and careful consideration of every possible date.

This has become an “event” that has done so much good for the environment, particularly, Benton County and places downstream. It has brought people from Waterloo, Cedar Falls, LaPorte, Cedar Rapids, and more! It is not something we want to let “go away”. For that reason, your RATS committee is already looking forward to 2015 and jumping right back in with both feet!! Watch your local media for the 2015 date!! And plan on joining us for the most fun ‘working’ you can have on the River! Call 319-558-7476 for more information and to find out how you can help in 2015.

Until next time remember, Take Home With You, What You Take Out .

See you on the water!

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Comments (1)

Big thanks go out to kirk page for lending his boats.
By: Hue Januse on June 27th 6:09pm

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